Rusty Edwards pitched a gem on Friday night to get the Moose Jaw Miller Express back into the win column after a 1-3 road trip to Alberta.
Edwards, who had struggled to a 0-3 record to start the year, picked up his first win of the season, allowing one unearned run on two hits in a 7-1 win over the Medicine Hat Mavericks at Ross Wells Park.
“It’s been a rough summer to start,” said Edwards. “Really my trouble was just falling behind in counts and I worked a little bit better at that today and started to get ahead a little better and really that’s all you can do as a pitcher, try to get ahead.”
A strong two-inning relief appearance in Lethbridge earlier this week helped to
build up Edwards’s confidence after three rough starts to open the season.
“He threw a gem,” said head coach Michael Hunt after the game. “This is his fourth start and this by far the best one he had and we’ve seen progress throughout all of
his three starts too, so this is really good for him.”
Edwards came out on Friday night and looked confident on the mound, fighting to get ahead of hitters, something that he’d struggled with in previous starts, like last Saturday in Swift Current when he lasted just three innings.
“As a pitcher, you can’t really get rattled too easily,” stated Edwards. “If you do have a bad pitch against a batter, you’ve just got to bounce back and worry about getting that next pitch in there.”
“There’s still something’s to work on, like attacking that first hitter,” added Hunt. “But, he certainly had a lot more confidence and it showed as he was able to go deep into the game.”
Edwards did finish with five walks in seven innings of work, but he was able to battle out of bad situations to get a key ground ball. He ended up stranding a runner in scoring position in the first, second, third and fifth innings.
The Millers’ bats provided more than enough run support early in the game as they built up the 7-1 lead by the fourth inning. Moose Jaw had ten hits in the first four innings before getting just one over the final four.
Moose Jaw was able to chase Medicine Hat starter John Rand after five innings, he gave up seven runs on ten hits with just one walk and six strikeouts.
“We’ve seen a lot of lefties in a row, so to have some success against one early is real key for us now,” said Hunt.
Ben Douglas finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Frank Pluskota went 2-for-3 with two RBI. Austin Russell was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and Aiden Stinnett also came around to score twice in the win.
The Millers were able to bounce back from a difficult road trip in Alberta that saw them lose two lopsided games in Lethbridge and then finish with a close loss in Okotoks on Thursday. Hunt viewed this game as an extension of that road trip and felt his team responded well.
“It ends up being like a bit of a road trip because we got in at 5:30am,” he said, “so it’s a nice way to finish it off.”
Medicine Hat will be back at Ross Wells Park on Saturday night for a rematch, but the Millers aren’t too worried heading into that game as they look for their second straight win.
“We look pretty good at home,” said Edwards. “It will be good for the team to come out and get another W, hopefully get on another win streak.”
First pitch on Saturday is at 7:05pm. You can tune in live at mjmillerexpress.com for all the action with voice of the Millers, Marc Smith.